Ancient Sugar-Free Gum! (ca. 4,000 BC)

By: The Scribe on Saturday, August 25, 2007

Delicious ancient gum from Finland!In the summer of 2007, a student in western Finland working on an archaeological dig came across an interesting find – it was a lump of birch bark tar from about 6,000 years ago! Based upon the time period that it was from, as well as the appearance of the lump of hardened substance, it didn’t take long to deduce that it was, in fact, a piece of ancient chewing gum.

It is known that during the Neolithic period, humans used birch bark tar as an antiseptic to treat mouth sores like gum infections, or even for household tasks such as repairing a pot. Birch bark tar in particular contains something called “phenols”, which are antiseptic compounds that help to treat infections naturally.

Chewing sugar-free gum – whether it is modern gum or ancient birch bark tar – also helps to stimulate the production of saliva in the mouth, which works as a preventative method against tooth decay.

In the case of this ancient piece of birch bark tar, there are tooth marks remaining on the piece of gum that confirm it was in someone’s mouth thousands of years ago! Interestingly enough, an amber ring and a slate arrowhead were also found near the ancient treat.

Even if they weren’t necessarily aware of the gum’s medicinal properties, it appears that humans of all millennia have enjoyed popping a tasty, chewable treat into their mouths… perhaps they even had their own troubles with scraping used gum off of sandals.

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Tomorrow: Eagle vs. Shark? Forget it…Griffins vs. Deer!


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